Drew Pearson was watching the divisional round playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints Sunday, but he was like a lot of people before the final play.
“I had pretty much given up until I heard all the shouting in my living room,” said the Dallas Cowboys' Ring of Honor wide receiver. “And this guy had caught the ball, [Stefon] Diggs, and the next thing I know, he’s taking off down the sideline and I’m kind of imagining that this is the way Cowboys fans felt back in the day; that this game is over and the next thing you know, you make a play and everybody’s going crazy, pandemonium. It becomes a moment you never forget.”
Diggs' touchdown gave the Vikings a 29-24 win against the Saints and has Minnesota one win away from becoming the first team to play a Super Bowl in its stadium.
Pearson helped birth the term "Hail Mary" with Roger Staubach on Dec. 28, 1975, with a 50-yard touchdown with 24 seconds left to beat the Vikings in the divisional round of the playoffs at Metropolitan Stadium.
To this day, Vikings fans believe Pearson pushed off Nick Wright and he remains near the top of the villain list in the Twin Cities more than 40 years later.
After the game, Diggs was not familiar with Pearson.
“1975? I was still swimming then,” Diggs said.
But Diggs, who caught Case Keenum's pass near the sideline and turned upfield with no New Orleans defender near him, now has his moment the way Pearson had his.
“It’s for life,” Pearson said. “It’s there for 42 years for me now. I get asked about it all the time. If not every day, it certainly comes up quite a bit. The Hail Mary situation, the term Hail Mary and the reaction to it and what it means has crossed over into so many different aspects of life. I’ve heard it in the business world. I hear it in the religious world and the charitable world and in family-life situations where families have to overcome negative situations. It’s crossed over into a lot of different people’s lives.”
The Keenum-to-Diggs pass has been called “Seven Heaven” and the “Minnesota Miracle,” not a Hail Mary. After Pearson’s touchdown, the Cowboys still had to cover a kickoff and play defense to prevent a Fran Tarkenton comeback.
In the first few minutes after Diggs’ touchdown, Pearson said he got about 10 text messages from friends. Some said his catch was still better.
“I don’t know what that defensive back [Marcus Williams] was doing,” Pearson said. “Seemed like he took a spill on fate. It looked like it was in the cards for the Vikings.”